Athena in the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Nashville, Tennessee - Parthenon Replica
The Parthenon is an exact replica of the original one in Athens, Greece. It was originally built as a temporary building for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition (hence its location in Centennial Park) in 1896.
Since Nashville was called "The Athens of the South" at that time, the citizens decided to keep the Parthenon as a remembrance of the exposition.
By the 1930's the temporary building had deteriorated so much that it was replaced by a permanent one that now functions as an art museum. [Kenton Dickerson, 12/03/2007]
THE STATUE OF ATHENA
Inside the main all of the Parthenon stood Phidias' crowning achievement, a statue of the goddess Athena. Originally the statue was enlivened with precious and semi-precious gems and largely covered in gold. This original work did not surrive antiquity and was dismantled by various conquerors of Athens. Today, Nashville, Tennessee is the aclaimed sister city of Athens, Greece. In downtown Nashville stands the only life-size replica of the ancient Parthenon. Within this structure can be seen a replica of Athena's statue. The photograph below and the accompanying text explains the important features of this statue.
The three crests of Athena's helmet are supported by mythological creatures; on the left and right stands a Pegasus (winged horse) and in the center a sphinx (half woman and half lion).
The armored breastplate of Athena wears on her shoulders is said to have magic powers. Given to her by Zeus, the Aegis makes Athena imperious to her enemies' weapons. In the center of the breastplate is the Medusa's head, given by Perseus in return for her help in killing the Medusa.
In Athena's out stretched right hand hovers Nike, the winged goddess of victory preparing to crown Athena with the laurel wreath. As the personification of Victory, Nike was often associated with Athena in the art of this period and the relationship between the two goddesses was a close one in the minds of the Athenians in the 5th century. The Athenians believed that it was Athena who had protected them from annihilation and had instead granted them their victory over the Persian Empire in 480 BC. The image of a triumphant Athena being crowned by Victory was also symbolic of the Preeminence of Athens amongst the Greek city states.
Standing some 15 feet in diameter Athena's shield is a complex sculpture in its own right. On the exterior in high relief is a depiction of Greek heroes and Amazons savagely contesting over an unnamed Greek city. In the Greek mind the amazons were symbolic of other cultures especially the Persians whom the Greeks considered barbarians. In Greek myth the amazons lived in the area of eastern Anatolia, and the long robes and effeminate manners of the Persians were likened to those of the legendary women warriors. In the center of the shield is the grotesque image of Medusa, slain by Perseus with the help of Athena. As a thank offering for her help Perseus gave the gorgon's head to the goddess who put it on her shield as a protective device. The Medusa additionally appears on Athena's breastplate.
Thought by some to represent Ericthonios, a legendary defied king of early Athens, the snake is also thought to symbolize the people of Athens themselves who like this creature of the earth arose from the soil of Attica. Athena's shield protects the snake, indicating her role in defending the people of Athens from harm.
Athena's sandals are decorated with a scene depicting the slaying of the Centaurs, a reflection of the scenes carved on the metopoes of the Parthenon's Doric friezes
Athena is 42 feet tall, the "Largest Indoor Sculpture in the Western World." Unveiled inside Nashville's replica Parthenon in 1990, she is so big she holds another statue in her right hand. She was gilded in 2002 entirely in 23.75 carat Italian gold leaf.]